“A massive honour”: Samuel named among Top 150 Future Leaders

“A massive honour”: Samuel named among Top 150 Future Leaders

2018 leaver Samuel Akpan has been named in Future Leaders magazine’s Top 150 list for 2021–2022.

Samuel, who graduated in Politics & International Studies from Warwick this year, has already made his mark in fields including social enterprise, sport and  anti-racism work at the university.

An annual publication, Future Leaders profiles 150 of the most outstanding black university students in Britain. His citation in the magazine highlights:

  • His role as Warwick’s Anti-Racism Disability Officer as part of an executive team charged with coordinating responses to racist incidents on campus
  • The talk he gave last year to parents of deaf children about his experiences growing up with unilateral deafness in which he shared insights into the challenges deaf people face and the practical support available to them
  • His entrepreneurial creativity: this included designing a red jersey exclusively for the Sickle Cell x ILL London jersey raffle in December 2019 that helped sell tickets to help raise money for the Sickle Cell Society.
  • Samuel’s success in becoming a qualified football referee in November 2019, since when he has been speaking with the Birmingham FA about ways of increasing the number of BAME match officials.

Interviewed for the alumni section of Warwick’s website, Samuel (OE 2011–2018) said: “To be named as a Future Leader is a massive honour. To be given such a ‘heavy’ title means you have been recognised for your competencies and your future potential.

“Also, for me it’s an extra achievement, as I’m…deaf in my left ear. When I’m older, whatever field I’m in or wherever I am, I can look back and be proud of the man I’ve become.

“The award has made me think about what it means to be a leader and I definitely feel that it’s about making sure you excel by giving back where you can.”

Samuel is especially pleased that the accolade recognises his social enterprise work, which began while he was still at QE. “In 2017, there was a craze where everyone wanted to make fashion brands, so I made printed T-shirts with my brand ILL London,” he explained.

“When I got to Warwick, I also made sweaters in different colours and added my logos. I ran a raffle for a one-off football jersey with my logo on, and 50% of the money raised went to the Sickle Cell Society. It helped raise awareness of the importance of giving blood if you can, as it’s essential to helping people with Sickle-Cell Anaemia.”

He told QE Connect that he remains in regular contact with a large number of the friends he made at QE (many of whom went to Warwick).

“I am thankful for all the time and energy the teachers gave me to help me even make it to university,” he says, adding that he particularly appreciated his positive experience of studying Philosophy and Politics for the first time in the Sixth Form “as it gave me a lot of direction going forward”.

Outside of the classroom, his “stand-out memories” include the infamous ‘elephant dip’ during cross-country runs and the time he slipped during his 100m race on Sports Day: “It cost me at least a top-three finish, I’d say ­– and caused a lot of general laughter!”

His enjoyment of sport continued at Warwick, where, although he was not on the Philosophy, Politics and Economics course, he played for the league-winning PPE FC side.

He is now focusing on his sports writing: during his recent time at BCOMS (Black Collective of Media in Sport), an initiative partnered by Arsenal Football Club, he covered three matches and also had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in football journalism.

Samuel, who did not take a gap year, is currently enjoying a break from full-time education while he considers his future career direction. Asked where he sees himself in ten years’ time, he replied that he hopes to be working in the football sector “in a position that allows me to help the younger black generation”.